As you may remember, I’m reading a Nancy Drew book for the first time in about 27 years and very much enjoying it, despite the fact that I no longer fall anywhere into the demographic for which these books were written. That was discovery number one. Tonight, I made discovery number two.
ND books may just be, in actual fact, the antidote to those occasions when you want to read, but you can’t take much. You can’t take much educational/informative non-fiction; you can’t take much modern genre stuff; you can’t take much beautifully written prose of any kind. But, you do want to read. It’s like the rest you take on a treadmill by walking between periods of jogging; it keeps you pleasantly engaged with only little demand.
Discovery number three happened two days ago. I was sitting on a bench in the cool evening reading and wondering how it is that a person in her late 30s could be so enjoying a Nancy Drew when that same person 27 years earlier felt herself bored by them because of her “advanced” age.
It totally made me think of CS Lewis’s dedication to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He made that dedication to a Lucy Barfield, who seems to be his Goddaughter.
He wrote (in part),
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grown quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
And this, of course, makes me think of something else I read by Lewis (perhaps in Mere Christianity, which I can’t locate my copy of now).I’ve cut and pasted from Wikiquotes (so I hope it’s accurate) the quote I’m thinking of:
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
That, in turn, seems a clear reference to this Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:11:
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but on becoming a man I was through with childish ways.”
Obviously, Lewis wasn’t talking just about enjoying a children’s book. There’s much more that’s being said here, I think, than that. But, I’d like to think that Lewis had a bit of whimsy in him that would have liked kis’ books just for the rollicking adventure and youthful spirit.
I do not mean to make more of my renewed appreciation of Nancy Drew than a simple observation: I was young and loved it; I got ‘too old’ and didn’t enjoy it; I got much older and enjoyed it again. And, so, two days ago while I was sitting on the bench reading my book and thinking about how odd it is that I couldn’t enjoy a kids’ book when I was a big kid, but I can really get into it now when I’m nowhere near kid-age, I thought of CS Lewis and some lovely ideas he wrote down.
And that was discovery number 3.
Here’s a great site, a online Nancy Drew exhibition!
It was at the Universityof Maryland and now there are great pics and bits of lovely ND info online at: